Part 1 – Having Died With Christ
Readers of the Bible have a natural tendency to finish a chapter and move on to the next one with the idea that one theme is over and a new one begins, but that is not always the case, especially here with Romans 5 and 6. The theme of Romans 5 (benefits of our justification and our union with Christ) flow very nicely with Paul’s description and explanation of our new life in Christ found in chapter six, especially the last two verses of chapter five (verses twenty and twenty-one). But another interesting note: chapters six and seven are really a parenthesis between chapters five and eight. In other words, you could read from the end of chapter five and flow perfectly into chapter eight, but Paul decided (through the Holy Spirit) to take a very important sideroad with six and seven to answer the natural questions that this mystery of our union with Christ will bring up.
Paul ends chapter five with the monumentally comforting words, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more”, and Paul understands enough about the flesh of people that he anticipates the possible obvious question that arises: “If God’s grace is in superabundance when we sin, then we ought to keep on sinning so there will be more grace and glory for the Lord!” This false view is called “antinomianism” (against law or lawlessness) and again, this mindset allows the person to continue to live in sin since God will forgive, and since no one is perfect, you can’t expect one to live ‘holy lives’.
Paul answers this obstacle in the strongest words possible (“By no means”, or as the King James says, but not exactly correctly, “God forbid”). Paul then tells his readers why this idea is preposterous – to think and live this way is ludicrous for the simple reason that when we came to faith in Christ we died to our old life. We are NOT the same people we were before. We are no longer ‘in Adam’, but now are ‘in Christ’ and if Christ is our life, then there is no room or reason that we would continually walk in a course of sin. Our innermost being is now Christ’s life, and we are no longer ruled by our old sinful nature, which has been crucified (Romans 6:6).
Yes, yes, yes, we may still sin, because the remnants or influence of the old sinful nature has tainted or stained our flesh (our mind – the way we think, feel, and choose), but sin is no longer our master because we are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14). Most of the rest of chapter six will explain in greater details how we have died to sin and our now slaves to righteousness and governed by the Spirit of Christ. Yes, there is so much more exciting news to learn about in Romans 6, 7, and 8!!
To finally drive home Paul’s point concerning the benefits of being justified by faith in Jesus Christ, which has been presented to the children of God in order to bring about a sustainable and everlasting assurance of one’s salvation, Paul points out very clearly that the old life we lived in Adam – with all of its dire consequences – has been superseded by the work of the Second Adam – Jesus Christ.
Paul points out a number of comparisons between life in Adam and life (true life) in Christ. With the fall of Adam the propensity to sin became ‘natural’ for all humans because not only was Adam our federal head (he represented all of us, and he failed), but we all inherited spiritually/genetically a sinful nature – old man – adamic self – unregenerate self – spiritually dead spirit.
This nature – this sinful nature – is alive to the world and to the devil, but it is NOT alive to the Lord (which is true life) because only Christ IS life. And if you don’t have the Son, then you don’t have Life. So, Adam’s sin brought sin to all of us, because we all sin, but it also brought with it spiritual (and eventually, physical) death to all. And of course, Adam’s sin also brought with it for all that follow (are born) after him, judgment, because sin must result in judgment by the holy God.
BUT the Second Adam – Jesus Christ – reversed all of those ills effects. Because Christ lived a perfect life and thus followed the Law perfectly, then through His sacrifice and resurrection He is not legitimately able to change those ill effects to those who have been justified by faith. No longer is the Christian ruled by a sinful nature because (as we will see in Romans 6) our sinful nature was crucified and we were given Christ’s Spirit. Our life is now Christ’s life. We will all still die physically (unless the Lord comes back first), but we who are believers will not die spiritually. Judgment and wrath are NOT on our docket because Christ took that upon Himself. Therefore, there is now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Because Christ was obedient, we have been made righteous.
It is vitally important that the Christian realize that we are no longer IN Adam, but we are IN Christ, and that’s the safest place to be!